Isabel Last - Faena

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This is a podcast episode titled, Isabel Last - Faena. The summary for this episode is: <p>Faena is an innovative Spanish language learning video game founded by their CEO Isabel Last. Isabel wanted to make learning fun by creating a game where you learn by speaking and interacting in a story-filled world. </p><p><br></p><p>Today, Isabel shares her background, what led to her wanting to start her business, and what the word "Faena" means. Listen now and learn more about Faena and what the future holds for the company.</p>
Intro to the episode
00:31 MIN
Learn more about Isabel and her background
03:28 MIN
The meaning of Faena
01:42 MIN
How Isabel started Faena
03:12 MIN
Can Faena be integrated into the school system?
01:51 MIN
Lessons learned since Isabel started Faena
01:25 MIN
Using voice recognition to advance through the games narrative
01:23 MIN
Do we know the efficiency of learning from Faena vs traditional learning?
02:18 MIN
How the game will work once they start branching out into other languages
02:13 MIN
Isabel's words to live by✨
01:20 MIN
How to find Faena
00:53 MIN

Michelle Brandriss: Welcome to From the Basement Up. And today, I'm speaking with Isabel Last, the founder and CEO of Faena, a Spanish language learning video game where she's making learning fun. In Faena, learn by doing and play to survive and thrive in a simulated world where you can interact in a meaningful way. This game fills a space that is long overdue. Through our narrative based game, it hooks players into learning without even realizing it. Isabel is creating a paradigm shift where we can all learn how to speak a second language. Hello, Isabel. Thank you so much for joining us today on From the Basement Up.

Isabel Last : Hi. So happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Michelle Brandriss: Oh, this is great. Well, first, before we jump in, I want to find out about you and your background.

Isabel Last : Sure. Yeah, yeah, of course. I'm Isabel Last, like you said. I was born and mostly raised in Baltimore, Maryland on the East Coast. And there I went to Towson University to get my Spanish as a second language teaching certification, and I taught middle school and high school levels. And when I was teaching, I would get really nervous to be in front of so many students, and it was my first public speaking experience, and it was really hard. I would get cotton mouth. That's why I always have water even now, even though I'm more experienced with it.

Michelle Brandriss: I do too. Don't worry.

Isabel Last : Yeah, really. You get stuck. So I was so nervous to be in front of so many students, day after day. So I had to make lessons that would put them at the center stage instead of me, and then it would take everything off me. And I also found that it was a lot more successful when the students were doing most of the intellectual work, not the teacher. So this is sometimes referred to as a flipped classroom technique. And the way that I went about it was just for my own health. It was really, really nice, and it got them to be a lot more active. And once I did that, then I got into an apocrypha where I was starting to get really bored. So in order to entertain myself and the students, I would make these crazy mystery lessons about solving Bad Bunny's mysterious death at an opera, Maluma and Ozuna were involved. You had to go through all these materials and talk to each other and figure out who did it. So things like that. And then I moved out to New Mexico, so I'm in New Mexico right now, to do a master's in Hispanic Linguistics at UNM, University of New Mexico. And I was teaching Spanish one and three. And again, I was doing my best to make it as fun, entertaining and flipped as possible. But I realized that there had to be a better way to do this because I can make a murder mystery about Bad Bunny and a bunch of other stuff, but I still have to do it in a classroom with chairs, with papers, with documents. And on Zoom, it was just the same but digitized. And many students just wouldn't show up. It wasn't working well, and they wouldn't turn assignments in. And I would meet with them and I would see that they're very interested, they want to learn this. But I was stuck in this paradigm that I felt that I had reached the ceiling of. As creative of a person as I am, as entertaining as I made it, I did all of the pedagogical right practices. And even then I knew that whatever this is, whatever paradigm that we're in, it needs a change, it needs to shift. So at the same time, I was also noticing that many of my students were just playing video games. They wouldn't come to my class and I'd be like, " Hey, where were you?" And they'd be like, " Oh, sorry, I was playing Minecraft." Okay, okay. But instead of saying like, " You have to come to class," I thought, well, that makes sense, video games are really fun. So what if I took everything that I was doing in my lessons, but I made the entire immersive world from the ground up where it made sense to learn these phrases and chunks according to a given social situation. So everything was all contextualized in one overarching sci- fi story. So it'd be like the murder of Bad Bunny, and then that's just one in a series of you being a detective, something like that. So where you could also focus on speaking because you're using your own literal voice in the video games, it's all voice recognition based and you just learn and interact with characters in the game. And so to basically sum up, from Baltimore, but now I'm over here. I left that master's program to do this full time. So I'm working on Faena full time that's going to make all these immersive video games for all languages, full time now, full startup mode. Again, it's called Faena. But yeah, that's basically where I'm coming from.

Michelle Brandriss: That is awesome. Okay. I just have to ask, was this taking place during COVID, where we were on Zoom and teachers were trying-

Isabel Last : Yeah.

Michelle Brandriss: Okay. I'm always interested to find out what's going to happen and how are we evolving from COVID and all of us working and living from home? So this was the evolution of your lesson. Was this one of it, or had you thought about it before?

Isabel Last : I hadn't thought about it before. Yeah, I think that probably was a big push, was seeing all of my materials actually worked really well online. It wasn't the same kind of classroom experience where you get everyone talking and you can... It's a bit more energetic when you're in person. But I saw that it was working, but then people just wouldn't show up. And so you need to do something that would get into their minds, into their needs and their interests instead of forcing them to just participate in this paradigm that's just worked for very few people that are going to succeed anyway in whatever they do. So, yeah.

Michelle Brandriss: It's brilliant. So smart. I have to ask what, because I don't speak Spanish, what does Faena mean?

Isabel Last : Okay. Yeah. This is a great question. I get this every so often. Faena in Spanish, it means different things in different dialects. So the way that I learned it was in a language culture and politics class in the Andes. So we were looking at the Quechua and Aymara indigenous communities there and Faena in that context, in the way that I learned, meant work that you do towards the collective wellbeing of a community. So that's what we're taking. So in the game, Faenas are like these little missions, these little quests that you do, and they're all asking people what they need. Are you okay? Okay, you need this. Let me go make it. You have to go find the resources, pull it back, ask people where certain things are. And so all of those have to do with Faenas. And then Faena, the game takes place in a retro futuristic, Colombian Andes. My husband's Colombian, and so that's where the whole Colombian aspect is coming from. So I'm trying to be as loving towards all of these Colombian symbolisms as possible. And so Faena to them, I was asking around all my husband's cousins and friends and it was again, a really wide variety, even within Colombia. To my husband who's from more a rural region, near the Amazons in the South of Colombia, to them Faena was like a day of work for farmers. It's like, "Oh, I have to do my Faena today." And then his other friends were like, "Oh, Faena's like a big party." And then someone else is like, "Oh, Faena's a big problem. I was in this situation, I was in this Faena." And so Faena means everything, essentially. It's a good word.

Michelle Brandriss: But you know what? It sounds like for the most part it has a positive spin. And so that's a good thing.

Isabel Last : I think it's split down the middle because also in Spain, I had a professor from Spain, so I was asking her what Faena meant. And they have a phrase like, " Que Faena" Which is like, " What a Faena" which means like, it's a lot of work that they don't want to do. So I think it's split down the middle. But I think that's part of a lot of the larger narrative and the value systems that we're trying to elicit in Faena. A lot of it has to do with collectivism and needing to do this work for the good of everyone in order for everyone as a whole to survive.

Michelle Brandriss: Okay. But I love that, for the good of everyone. And it sounds like you're kind of thinking about adding kind of a moral compass in there as well in addition to learning. So moms are going to love it and I'm going to love it.

Isabel Last : It's super exciting. There's a bunch of moral stuff in there. It has a lot to do with the role of humans in relation to the environment at large. And I can't reveal too much past that, but there's a bunch of it.

Michelle Brandriss: Okay. So we have a lot to unpack. Excited. So explain to me. So this idea came over COVID. And I'm not a techie person, I have no idea how to get something like this started. I mean this is a huge thing. How do you start something like this?

Isabel Last : I think I'm very stubborn and at times ignorant. And so I just put my head down and just decided that I would do it. And then from that point, then you just figure it out. I've been noticing a lot when I tried to find people to bring onto my team, startups are not for everyone. And I think I didn't realize how much I was born into it in some sort of way. Because both of my parents were small business owners at one point in their lives. My mom was a florist for her whole entire life. My dad used to work in construction in England, had his own company. And I think there's a lot of... I didn't realize how much it's not that pervasive, that people have this trait of just being stubborn enough and just like if you have an idea and just like Nike, just do it, you just kind of go do it. So it's been difficult. The learning curve is very hard. Again, I'm not technical either. I don't know how to make these games. I think with my teaching experience and the way that I was organizing lessons, a lot of that is actually has a lot of parallels to game design.

Michelle Brandriss: Nice.

Isabel Last : Kind of creating these experiences for people to play. And so it's been very interesting. It has been hard, but it's just this thing of just put your head down and do it because it's fun and it's interesting and it's a good challenge and it's way more challenging than anything else I've done.

Michelle Brandriss: Yes. So you're finding that you're kind of writing the script out of what you want the people to learn and then you're finding the game developers to come in and make that happen for you. How hard has it been to find those programmers or game designers?

Isabel Last : They're there. There's a bunch. I recently lost my team that I was working with. They were very contractual and I was hoping that they would take the initiative and step up and want to come on full time as we were getting closer to being fully funded, when I launched the round. Right now it's been like part- time, whatever small amounts of funding that we get in. So that didn't work out. So recently, a couple weeks ago, I had to do a search to get what I always wanted, which was a partner, a technical partner that has experience in game dev and design as well, ideally. And I found someone now and we're working really well together. Hopefully, by the time this comes out, we're still together. But it's been very easy to find people with the skills. It's been a lot harder to find people with the personality and the-

Michelle Brandriss: They share the excitement that you have.

Isabel Last : Yeah. And that are willing to take this risk too. Because I think that's a big thing is people are different, it just has to be very well aligned and all of these things, you can't control. You can control, do you have the skills to pull this off for the most part? Are you willing to learn a bunch of other skills? Because in startups, in such early stage, everyone's going to be wearing a bunch of hats and you have to be willing to push yourself to just learn other things as the need arises. So that's been harder to do. But the skills are definitely out there, all over the world. And we're all remote too. So that's made it a lot easier.

Michelle Brandriss: Since COVID, we started working remotely where people can. And it actually has been wonderful. It has been wonderful. It just makes everything so much more flexible and in a lot of ways, easier. And then people are able to focus in their space. So I have found that it's been great. So I'm curious here, what is the timeline for this? And I'm so glad that you're on today and talking about it because we're actually talking before it goes live. So this is super exciting. You're in the beta phase and everything. I can't wait to hear how you're rolling this out and how it's going to launch.

Isabel Last : Yeah. So we're quite a ways from it, unfortunately, video games and the scale that we want to pull off. I wanted originally to make a 40 hour game, which, it takes multimillions of dollars, $ 10 million to make these big AAA 40 hour games. And so I was convinced down to 10. So we're going to do 10 hour game installments, the first hour of which, so one 10th of the games would be released 18 months, or if we hit a shorter benchmark, that would be slightly sooner than that. After we get fully funded, which should be within the next few months. So we're hoping to raise and start our pre- seed or seed round either early December or January.

Michelle Brandriss: So how are you funding, because this is something that I bootstrapped and I always find it fascinating when people, because this is a huge thing, this is massive. How do you go about the funding aspect?

Isabel Last : So some of it's my own money, whenever is needed. And I've been forgoing an income too and none of the money goes to me at all, in no sense. I've gotten 32K around in investments, or 32K in funding total, the majority of which are investments like small little, like 10K, 6K, little investments down to 1K even from various people, some personal connections, some pitch competitions. Most notably, I don't know if you know of Notion, that's blowing up right now. But the CTO and the CEO of Notion have done these small little micro investments in us. Basically anything, it all helps as we try to get a demo out to be able to launch our round so that investors can play and show that we can make stuff.

Michelle Brandriss: That's so very cool. Do you already have customer service on board? Is it more you and then how are you building out your team? Can you see it once the funding is done?

Isabel Last : Yeah, so I'm actually making those bigger budgets now, now that I know that it wasn't going to work with too many contractors.

Michelle Brandriss: Okay.

Isabel Last : Because you can build something out. You can hire people to build you a game, but they're not going to work with you on iteration and exploration and all this brainstorming and all of that needs to happen because I don't have all of the skills to pull this off. I have the language learning aspect, I have some game design skills and past that, it needs to be a team. So the person that I found right now should end up being my number two. And if not, I'll keep looking. But we basically want two to three co- founders. We want this to be as small as possible. So ideally two. We need all of us to wear as many hats as possible and have as many different skills as possible. Basically, we need that core team of two to three people to cover, I would be language learning, one would be development, like backend stuff and then the third one would be art. So they have to cover the entire art pipeline. I actually cover it right now, the beginnings of it. And then I would have to hand it off because I don't have the 3D modeling skills. But I've actually been using a bunch of AI engines to help me with concept art and this really, really, really cool.

Michelle Brandriss: You've been creating that, the artwork so far?

Isabel Last : Not all. Everything that gets handed off or that was handed off to artists, I have a tight handle on what they're making because I'm an artist myself, so I really care about what it looks like over my dead body will this look bad. So it'll be a good looking thing either way. But yeah, so we need that core team. And then the rest would be contracting things out that the core team can cover as cheap as possible, but also as good as possible depending on how much funding we have to allocate.

Michelle Brandriss: Because I just see this as something that schools would want to have everywhere, across the United States. Have you been approached by anybody about getting this integrated into the school system?

Isabel Last : Yes, and I've mostly been bothering the hell out of them. So we got 52K in LOIs in under weeks. So these are letters of intent. Their commitments that kind of show interest into people actually purchasing the game. And we did the LOIs with basically all connections. I did it under a week, 2K, all these teachers that I've know, department chairs, department heads, at universities, high schools, middle schools, all across the board. So yeah, eventually we do want this game to be in schools. A lot of our competition, so take apps like Duolingo or Babble, the route that they have gone and a lot of the route that edutainment has gone, which is gamifying learning and all this stuff, they're making tools to support teachers in the classroom. A big downside to that is that there are no teachers. We have huge teacher shortages across the country and it doesn't sound safe to me to rely on individuals that have super varied backgrounds in how well they're trained and what they're trained in. And I know this because I've worked with them and I've done talks and workshops on how to do this task based learning method that I'm a big proponent of. Yeah, I think the idea would be to have these relationships with department chairs, not so much teachers, because they don't have as much purchasing power as the department heads do. And I know that they're looking for something that could eventually replace teachers because they don't have them. As I reached out to some of my old department heads, people that I knew, they were offering me jobs cause they're like, " Oh by the way, we have a vacancy. Can you come do this?" And they're like, " You can test your game out on your students. We'll let you do whatever." And I said, " No, I have to do this full time." So they really, really need people. They really do.

Michelle Brandriss: That makes me sad. But thank goodness you're doing this, giving that extra support to the students and to the kids out there and something fun, fun for them to look forward to. As the game evolves and talking to you, I can tell you have a vision. And I'm curious how far out this vision goes, because I know you can see it this year, maybe next year. But I have a feeling you have a five to 10 year vision with this.

Isabel Last : Even bigger actually. Yeah, I would say at least like 50 years. I want Faena to be on my tombstone, if I have a tombstone in the ground. But no, there's definitely a very, very large plan at hand. I can give some indication as to what this is. I'll say that the narrative is being written large enough to encompass so the world that we're creating, every language that you would learn from whatever. So if your English speaker learning Spanish, if you're an Arabic speaker learning Mandarin, all of those games would happen in the same universe, so in the same video game universe. And so it'll be large enough to hold something like a cinematic universe later. Also, if we are able, which I'm very confident obviously that we're going to be able to pull this off, but if we're able to pull this off with language, which is arguably one of the most complex, if not the most complex single entity that we can kind of name and fathom, we can pull it off with learning lots of things. So I'll say that, I'll leave it there.

Michelle Brandriss: Okay. I can see how this can keep going. Again, it's like as long as you're creating this space where people are having fun while they're learning, why wouldn't they stay? I walk in and my son is playing video games and he loves video games. And the video games he loves are typically some building something or some strategy game or something like that. So he would love this. He would go for this 100%. And for me I would love it because he's learning something. So fantastic. I love it.

Isabel Last : Yeah, you're a whole target market segment actually, are parents that want that... They're going to play anyway, right?

Michelle Brandriss: Yes.

Isabel Last : They might as well learn Spanish.

Michelle Brandriss: Exactly. I just love having guests share some of their toughest moments and then the unexpected wins just because you have to be so flexible and you have to just roll with the punches. So what was the tough moment that you don't mind sharing or the biggest lesson that you had to experience?

Isabel Last : Sure. Yeah, there have been a bunch and for sure big punches. And again, it's back to this thing of just being stubborn and almost you can't overthink things too, too much because you just have to iterate and get back up again and you're going to get punched again and then fall back down and then get back up again. You have to be, I want to say almost dumb enough to do this. Yeah, okay. All right, don't think about that. Yeah, it's been a bunch of lessons that I've learned throughout all of this, doing this full- time since February. It's been very hard for me to understand who to listen to when I'm being given conflicting pieces of advice on fundraising, on game development, on being a founder, team management, all this sorts of stuff, all of these different things that I have to do. Lots of them are experts on what they are doing specifically and their own little market or their own startups that they've done before. But Faena hasn't been done before. And so it's been hard to navigate these different pieces of advice. So I would say that the toughest lesson for me has been the cost of time and I really just have to, it's been oscillating between listening to people and knowing that I need to learn things and from people that have done this before. But then also going back to my instincts of, and not allowing too many voices influence my path and Faena's path. So that's been a really hard thing.

Michelle Brandriss: And the other thing is, a lot of times there's more than one way to make something happen. And that's the other thing. And sometimes maybe you do have to find your own path. And I love that you're stubborn and you're going to just make sure that you find it. You get knocked down and you just have to be flexible and just make sure you get back up again. So thank you for sharing that. It's a vulnerable place to be a lot of times when you're working so hard and finding funding and trying to move forward. So it can be tough. What are some of your wins? Some of the things that you just kind of knocked out of the park?

Isabel Last : Yeah. The most obvious answer to this would probably be the investments that we got from Notion's CTO and COO. I think landing them and then their networks are probably going to be make us make it, as opposed to all these other people that I've been talking to, these two people alone are probably going to make this happen. But I think that the biggest one of all was probably just this initial decision to leave my master's program and start working on Faena full time and just taking a chance on this idea and myself. And so far so good, I think.

Michelle Brandriss: Because I watched a couple of your pitches online. I loved it and I loved how first your excitement for the product, you see the need. You saw and you're like, " Wow, no one's doing this. I'm the person that should be doing this, I should make this happen." There was something in it where you're talking about voice recognition and there's a narrative. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Isabel Last : [Yes. So the game is based on two things. One is the functionality, so it's completely voice recognition based. So in order to advance through the game narrative, which is the way that we're organizing the games instead of a syllabus of -ar verbs or verbs about art. So you advance through the narrative by talking with your literal voice, using voice recognition, to characters in the game. So these are called NPCs, non- player characters, everyone other than yourself. So you initiate conversations by approaching them and saying any of the greetings that you're taught in the beginning and then you just start enacting these chunks of phrases that were modeled for you by your friends [inaudible] in the game. She's like your best friend, she's your only English speaker and she saves you save, you save her. But you're just talking into your computer. So if you say something so incorrect, that the core meaning of what you were supposed to say is lost, then the NPC will look puzzled and say something in Spanish, like" Confundida," or" I'm confused about this." And then you'll get to try again. And then as a last resort, if nothing else works, then you'll be allowed to type something in or edit the text being output. But we do want this to be mainly a speaking game because that's what's kind of been left behind. So we want to emphasize speaking through the use of this voice for condition system in order for you to learn how to actually speak and interact with real people later way before reading and writing.

Michelle Brandriss: And that is so important. And just the basics of getting through, so if you were to go on a vacation, the basics of going into a restaurant, things like that. Just the very basics of where is the street, where is the restroom, the bathroom. So those types of things. So it is really important. When you have people going through the game and I know that you're in the beta, how fast do you see them progressing through the game, passing out worksheets, passing out conjugation, worksheets for kids to do? When you see people playing through this, how fast are they learning compared to the standard way of learning?

Isabel Last : I've been asked this before. We're not going to know exactly how efficient we are being until all the games are out for to cover Spanish fluency and someone plays all of them back to back. Each game is about 10 hours. We're kind of planning for 10 to 16 games to cover the Spanish language. And by the time we're on the third game, we would've expanded to cover to start other series to cover their languages. It's many hours, like 160 hours. So it's 10 hours of narrative in each game, meaning it's 10 hours of new material. But how quickly you grasp it is up to you. So if you are in this one Faena and you're learning something and then you don't feel that you're as comfortable with it and you keep having to look at the models again or the scripts and you don't want to be able to do that, because sometimes your scripts get taken away and so you don't want that to happen. So in order to make sure that you feel comfortable advancing, you can do as many of the side Faenas as possible, so the co- Faena foreign language, kind of like side missions, side quests. These aren't necessary to do. So if someone's kind of quick with things and can understand better or maybe they've heard all of these phrases before, maybe their grandma's spoken it to them and they don't need to spend as much time within a given group of phrases that are for this situation, then they can just advance on pretty quickly. So I would say between five minutes and an hour, because everyone's different and they come into the game having different stuff. So some people have taken college courses, they've tried Duolingo, some words, their parents might have spoken to them a little bit in Spanish. So they know some stuff but not other stuff. They may be able to recognize a lot but not be able to speak a lot, those are called receptive bilinguals. So it's the player and how quickly they get through this will be vastly different for each person, but we'll offer 10 hours, but you can play it forever. There'll be unlimited play, you can always go back and do stuff.

Michelle Brandriss: I love that. That's fun. And it's going to be fun enough where kids are going to want to go back and do that too. So I do have just a couple more things. When you start branching out into other languages, so say you're learning Mandarin, is it going to be in a town in China and then you're going to be going through their civilization, okay-

Isabel Last : Yeah, yeah. So what we're doing is we're trying to place players in a realistic context in which the things that they would be saying would happened in those environmental contexts. So every single language that we're going to cover, which hopefully is all of them, so like 6, 000 plus, we'll just keep going and just keep expanding and expanding and keep going. So with Mandarin for example, yeah, it'll be the same retro futuristic world. So it's a sci- fi world. So it's based in reality, but we have a little bit of leg room to be quite creative, which is what kind of sci- fi allows you to do, is kind of rooted in reality. But then take it to another level that's more interesting, it's more enticing. So we'll do that. And also, all of the speakers that are voicing all of these characters are going to be from these different areas in order to accurately kind of mimic what you would realistically hear if you were in those situations. Now, with this comes a ton of variation, a ton, like an insurmountable amount of variation in terms of what people are going to say. So for example, with the game now, the first game for English speakers still in Spanish, it takes place in retro futuristic Colombia, in the mountains, in the Andes. And most of the speakers that you're going to be listening to and using to create your own accent and learn all this stuff will be Colombian speakers from a bunch of different places in Colombia. But we'll throw in some other speakers as well just to give you the opportunity for your brain to adjust and make sure that you're getting these other dialects. It's a ton of variation. And then as the narrative progresses, we'll move you around. So the whole Spanish language learning series won't take place in Colombia. We'll move you around and then wherever you are, they'll be like, so let's say we'll move you up to some place like a town near Mexico City, then most of the speakers would then change to being Mexican speakers. And these are all real speakers that we have to go out and record.

Michelle Brandriss: Wow, this is very involved and very cool. As you're talking, it just keeps rolling up and I'm like, this is huge. This is huge. Thank you for I guess starting this and getting this going because I just think that so many people are going to love it.

Isabel Last : Thanks.

Michelle Brandriss: I would love to know what are some phrases... So typically when I wrap things up with a guest, you must have a mantra or words that you live by. And I know a couple times you've talked about being stubborn. But what are those words or the mantra, the saying that you have that gets you going after long day, you got to get up in the morning to do it again. What do you say to yourself.

Isabel Last : So I am very into Rick and Morty. Have you seen the show?

Michelle Brandriss: I love Rick and Morty. I really do.

Isabel Last : So good. Oh my gosh, so amazing. I'm very into existentialism. I got that from my dad. When you're in it, you forget the context of why you're doing things. And so it's important to step back and kind of think about why you're doing things and why you're alive at all. So there's this one quote that Rick says, I don't know if he says it multiple times, but, "To live is to risk it all." And then it goes on to say, "Otherwise, you're just an inert chunk of randomly assembled molecules drifting wherever the universe blows you." And I really like that. As humans, we have free will, we have this ability to choose certain things within a bunch of constrained context of course, and a lot of things that we can't control. But to be able to do this is, and to choose to do this is, it's a huge risk to me, to my husband. But yeah, to live is to risk it all.

Michelle Brandriss: Okay. I love that you quoted Rick.

Isabel Last : I love it. I love it so much. There's so many things.

Michelle Brandriss: Yeah. That is good. Isabel, thank you so much for joining me today. This is so fabulous. I love it. And everyone, Isabel, when should people be looking and where should they be looking for the website?

Isabel Last : So they can look now? When you look up the website, it's just www., so, the first thing that'll pop up, you can explore and be convinced by something else, by the artwork that we have, for example that's on there and our general aesthetic vibe. But basically, the person that's going to pop up is this demo wait list. So you can throw your name on there and be some of the first to try out the game and understanding that it's like they're going to be a lot of bugs and might fail, the build. But you just send us feedback and you'll be one of the first people to try it out. So there's that. And then also to stay updated with everything that we're doing, when we get funding, when we release different languages, when we release our characters and different concept arts and different models, that's all on our Instagram page. So that's just @ Faenagames, and then that way is probably the best way to keep in touch with what we're doing.

Michelle Brandriss: Awesome. Thank you so much.

Isabel Last : Thank you. This was fun.

Michelle Brandriss: This was fantastic. And everybody, thanks for joining us today on From The Basement Up. Thank you to our listeners for joining us for today's episode. And thank you to my amazing producer, Emily Flanigan. She deals with all my shenanigans. Julia Agostino, thank you for the amazing composition that you have made for the podcast. And listeners, feel free to check us out on our social media channels. Don't forget to give us a five star review and you can also visit us on fromthebasement up. com. Thank you so much.


Faena is an innovative Spanish language learning video game founded by their CEO Isabel Last. Isabel wanted to make learning fun by creating a game where you learn by speaking and interacting in a story-filled world.

Today, Isabel shares her background, what led to her wanting to start her business, and what the word "Faena" means. Listen now and learn more about Faena and what the future holds for the company.

Today's Host

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Michelle Brandriss

|Founder of Name Bubbles
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Emily Flanagan


Today's Guests

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Isabel Last

|Founder & CEO of Faena